Opening the U.S. military to transgender service members will require a number of new policies on berthing, sex-designated uniforms, I.D. card processing and physical fitness testing, which include different standards for men and women, says a new report to Congress.
The Congressional Research Service circulated to lawmakers on Wednesday the report, which lists the complications involved in integrating open transsexuals, cross-dressers and service members who want to change their sexual identity but not by surgery or by hormone therapy.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Monday announced the creation of a Department of Defense working group to pave the way for opening the ranks to transgender persons after a six-month study.
The CRS report said military commanders will deal with three types of cases: those wishing to undergo hormone therapy without surgery, those who elect to have gender reassignment surgery and those who wish to have neither but still want to be identified as the opposite sex.
“In all cases the DOD might need to consider administrative questions such as, the type of uniform worn, the gender listed on the individual’s military I.D., and duty and berthing assignments,” the CRS analysis says. “If the individual is undergoing hormone therapy, another consideration might be the physical fitness testing and standards that apply as currently these vary by gender.”
Under a process called “gender norming,” women do not have to meet the same physical fitness marks as men in tests such as pull-ups and running.
The report also says that while the Pentagon may unilaterally change the transgender ban, it would have to go to Congress to gain approval for reassignment surgeries under the military health insurance program, Tricare.
Current Pentagon policy bans transgender persons on the grounds they are not medically fit.
It defines the grouping as “Current or history of psychosexual conditions, including but not limited to transsexualism, exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias” or those with a “history of major abnormalities or defects of the genitalia including but not limited to change of sex, hermaphroditism, pseudohermaphroditism, or pure gonadal dysgenesis.”
CRS said: “DOD currently treats the physical and psychological aspects of transgender conditions as disqualifying conditions for new personnel accessions and for the discharge of existing service members.”
In announcing the working group, Mr. Carter said: “The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions. At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite.”
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